The photographic work of Tajette O’Halloran is narrative rich. Each image seems stolen from a story in progress. The photographs borrow filmic qualities not only in its storytelling but style lighting and composition. Indeed, O’Halloran had spent time as a location scout for Australia’s film industry. She’s kept her eye for location and sense of drama. The self-portrait series featured here is set in an abandoned house in Barre, Massachusetts.
O’Halloran relates of the experience, “While staying here in this environment I felt compelled to create a photographic story of captivity, abandonment and surrender. I wanted to explore the fragility, torment and eventual freedom of the mind when left alone with yourself and your thoughts.”
Eric Johnson is a brilliant carpenter who designs and builds furniture out of completely salvaged materials. Armchairs from boat masts, rocking chairs from milk crates, lamps from moped scraps. A lot of “recycled” product design can end up looking not too different from the garbage it started out as, but Johnson does an incredible job of using clean, shrewd designs to make objects that stand on their own regardless of their history. The combination of his intelligent designs and recycled materials is inspiring in its own right too, quietly encouraging us all to see the potential in the mountains of discarded objects that overwhelm our modern lives. So kudos on three levels, Eric. Keep your eyes on Mr. Johnson, I smell a bright future.
Anne Lindberg is interested in creating work that resonates with non-verbal primal human conditions. Seeking to make work that is subtle, rhythmic, abstract and immersive Lindberg finds beauty in creating disturbances by layering materials to create varying tones, densities and pathways.
The architecture and design practice, Serie, created an amazing installation for the Maximum India Festival on the ceiling of the Monsoon Club at the Kennedy Center in DC in 2011. Incorporating over one million threads the piece is a 3D carpet that was inspired by the traditional flat woven rugs in India (Dhurries).
Gabriel Dawe’s breath-taking, mind-bending large-scale installations are made out of nothing but thread. The works are created using sets of string that can be up to 50 miles long. They play with space, dimension and perception.
Brian Wills is also interested in perception and rhythm and the way the brain processes pattern. His hand-made works are created by individually winding threads around board, or other material. Creating dynamic surfaces his works are engaging and beautiful.
French artist Sebastien Preschoux makes thread installations in sections of the forest. Capturing the installations for posterity via photography the results are stunning. We imagine the works sitting quietly in the forest, as if created by a spider from another world, delicately vibrant against the natural backdrop waiting to be discovered.
The Unknown Fields Division is a traveling design research studio (directed by Liam Young and Kate Davies) that has sculpted traditional Ming vases out of mud taken from a radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia. This “lake” is a noxious swamp made of debris created in the production of some of our most desired (and idealized) technology items. In an effort to explore the transnational origin of these items — and, indeed, explore the dark underbelly of their creation — Unknown Fields has made each vase proportionate to the amount of waste produced by the following objects: “a smartphone, a featherweight laptop, and the cell of a smart car battery” (Source). The result is a trio of apocalyptic-like earthenware vessels. Their grim, blackened surfaces are covered in a glistening “glaze” that was created when heavy metals contained in the mud melted in the pottery kiln. The vase materials were so toxic that the sculptors had to wear full-body protection at each stage of production, from on-site collection to creation in their London workshop.
These vases are part of Unknown Fields’ greater project to follow an international supply chain of “rare earth” elements (which are used in the creation of electronics) back to their place of origin: the toxic lake in Mongolia. Kate Davies explains the metaphorical purpose of the vases in this investigative journey:
“The vases are a way to talk about ideas around luxury and desire. How both are culturally constructed collective sets of values that are fleeting and particular to our time. These three ‘rare earthenware’ vessels are the physical embodiment of a contemporary global supply network that displaces earth and weaves matter across the planet.” (Source)
When we hold our cellphones and laptops in our hands, we rarely think about their origins. As Liam Young insightfully points out, “terms like ‘cloud’ of ‘Macbook Air’ imply that our gadgets are just ephemeral objects — and this is the story we all want to believe” (Source). We must not forget that such technologies, despite their polish and glamor, derive from earthly materials processed in factories and shipped across the world. Just as Ming vases were once subjected to an international demand based on their beauty and associations with wealth, Unknown Fields’ creations remind us of how such systems of consumer culture are continuing. “The three vases are presented as objects of desire, but their elevated radiation levels and toxicity make them objects we would not want to possess,” Davies explained. “They represent the undesirable consequences of our materials desires” (Source).
The vases will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum “What is Luxury?” exhibition, which runs April 25th to September 27th. Accompanying the exhibition is a film by Toby Smith, which documents Unknown Fields’ journey from container ships to factories to the radioactive lake (the trailer can be viewed above). Visit the Unknown Feilds’ website for more explorations of remote landscapes with surprising (and unsettling) intersections with our daily lives. (Via Fast Co.Create)
Mark Powell is a Mexico City based photographer who has done an amazing job documenting his city. As someone who has lived in the city, I can attest that Powell’s images do the difficult work of capturing the gorgeous strangeness that is DF (Distrito Federal). It’s a city that’s at once ancient and modern, chaotic and simple, deeply catholic and extremely progressive, the largest metropolis in the Americas yet seemingly invisible. Mexico City is hyperbole and juxtaposition and has seemed previously impossible to document in a sufficient way until Mark Powell’s photographs gave it some of the justice it so deserves. My advice: Paw through Powell’s portfolio, vote, and if the elections don’t turn out as you might want them to, jump the border for the next few years and get to know the urban wilderness of Mark Powell’s Mexico City. (via)
Lisa Nilsson’s works renders the densely squished and lovely internal landscape of the human body in cross sections. Her materials are Japanese mulberry paper and the gilded edges of old books. They are constructed by a technique of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper called quilling or paper filigree. Quilling was first practiced by Renaissance nuns and monks who made artistic use of the gilded edges of worn out bibles, and later by 18th century ladies who made artistic use of lots of free time.